Finn was thankful for the chance to visit the Easterly Inn again, albeit briefly. He intended to return in the Winter and stay, to try to help grow his investment in the Inn. In the meantime he enjoyed Pipkin's pies.
Not many days later he and Tom (along with Varuthil and Wren) continued their journey, finding the Elf-Path and slowly making their way through the depths of Mirkwood. The trek was long, but with two well-traveled men and the Elves who were always light of foot, they made good time. Wisely sticking to the path they traveled without incident.
At the place where their paths diverged, Finn and Varuthil spoke more about when they might meet for the return journey. Finn said he was sure his father would have business for him to conduct with the Raft Elves anyway, and that he would come to Thranduil's halls and would meet them there. "I would not mind spending a few days there, it has been now one year since I was in the Halls of Elrond, and I miss it very much. I hope that in the Halls of the Elvenking I will bring some of my memories of Imladris to life again."
Finn and Tom continued to Esgaroth without stopping the night in the Woodland Realm. Upon coming to his home in the merchant's quarters his mother Gudrun was completely shocked, as she had not heard from him in a very long time. After her surprise, and scolding for his lack of communication, she welcomed him and Tom and fed them. Soon thereafter his father Winaelf walked in and might have had a heart attack, had he not heard his son's voice through the door. Their reunion was a warm and happy one. Finn introduced Tom by way of sharing the story of the company's adventures over the last two years. He apologized to his father for not having yet secured a good source of lumber, admitting that he was in fact spending most of his time on the wrong side of the forest, but promised he would build up good relationships with the Woodmen, to learn if there might be some who had settled in the Eastern Bight, where Finn might set up a more direct trade. In the meantime, however, he talked about his investment in the Easterly Inn and his plans to help it grow.
"I'll have you come with me in a few days to the Raft Elves, Finn," said Winaelf. "Tensions have cooled a bit since you left, but lumber from the safe parts of the forest is strictly regulated. The Elves still trust the Wyngard family name, but it won't be that way forever. The only man guaranteed a supply of lumber is King Bard, and only a small portion of that is for the Master of the Lake. If our town and the city of Dale continue to grow, the Elves will be unwilling to supply for the needs."
"I don't see how I can help much father," replies Finn. "While the Raft Elves know me, I have not been among them for years. They know you best."
"You are right, but I am getting old. And you share their love of music. In fact, you mentioned having a few new friends among them who are NOT Raft Elves. That might be very important, because the Raft Elves ultimately answer to King Thranduil, but they do not spend much time in his court. Perhaps you can . . . use those connections well, if you know what I mean."
"Father, I have only one friend who is not a Raft Elf - the other is Wren, whom you know. But Varuthil, I will not use her friendship for business means. Nevertheless, I was hoping for a chance to visit them; I would be glad to do what I could to be an ambassador for us."
"Now see here!" Gudrun broke in. "You just got here and you're talking about already leaving! My cooking is not good enough for you hmm!?"
Finn stayed a full week around Laketown, reconnecting with old friends and business partners, while Winaelf put Tom to work, using his ability to read and write to send messages, edit contracts, and conduct other business. Soon after, Finn and Winaelf concluded it was time for him to visit the Elves, and so he took a boat and headed up the River Running to the Halls of Thranduil.
Along the way he turned his boat toward shore to make camp when the current pulled him down unfamiliar branch of the river. He found himself in a deep pool, shaded by beech trees on all sides, with the water carpeted by beautiful, white water-lilies. Finn collected a few, first for his mother, but kept behind a couple just in case.
The Raft Elves warmly welcomed Finn as he passed by their waters. But he didn't intend to stay or trade with them; they conversed some and he shared his desire to visit a friend or two, and to see the King's Halls.
He was welcomed by Wren and Varuthil, who had found a small guest room for him. Growing up in his family business, Finn had learned to converse in the Sylvan tongue, but as he had not used it for a few years the ability had become quite rusty. Being among a folk whose beauty and grace was perhaps overwhelming - ornately decorated halls and elegant manners - Finn began to feel worried his lack of courtesy would soon show. But his concerns were unfounded, for his worries were soon forgotten the moment he sat to listen to the minstrels sing. Time seemed to pass without notice and in just a few days Finn was able to feel comfortable in the Elves' tongue once more.
Indeed, as he hoped, his memories of Imladries were reawakened, and as his thoughts considered the Eldar and re-learned things he had forgotten in the Hall of Fire, his countenance seemed to grow more noble.
"Varuthil, I will come back again soon, perhaps in a few weeks. I must again return home to my mother, she will be wanting to see more of me before we go for who knows how long. But either way, we ought to depart for the Easterly Inn in time to arrive for Autumn." Before their conversation is over, Finn tells Varuthil of the lumber situation and the things his father hoped he could accomplish. He admits he doesn't expect much, but that he wanted to tell her anyway.
At the end of summer, Finn met Varuthil on the Elf Path, and the two of them headed back to the heart of Wilderland. With so many miles under his belt, Finn felt stronger than he ever had in his life, and hoped he was more prepared for the long journeys to come.